Wednesday, February 24, 2010

FoodTrek/UnRecipe: Remember to Eat Your Greens (with lots of cheese)

It's no secret that we have a love of board games, and we regularly gather at a friend's house every month for game-playing, beer-drinking, and trash-talking. You know, wholesome family fun with alcohol and profanity. It tends to be a pot luck affair, so at the last meetup, our contribution to the meal was a side dish that was somewhere between a casserole and creamed spinach. Either way, it was a tasty offering that made it easy to eat one's greens the Wasabi Way... basically with cheese and cream.

A hearty plate of comfort food and trash-talkin' for Game Night - Photo by Wasabi Prime

All vegetable side dishes start out with the best of intentions, as in, they start out with vegetables. This one was a mix of freezer and fresh goods -- frozen chopped spinach and fresh zucchini and leeks. I know it's good to start out with the freshest ingredients available, but I've learned my lesson with spinach enough times to know that cooking down fresh spinach is like watching a magic act. Not that I'm expecting Criss Angel to show up in some ruffled RenFair number and leather pants, but even the largest bag of fresh spinach from Costco is going to magically disappear into maybe four servings once it's cooked down in a pan. It's kind of disappointing since those two pound bags are impressive and one would hope it would last beyond a couple of meals. I stock up on boxes of frozen spinach when it's on supersale and just keep them in the freezer; a few days to thaw in the fridge or a few minutes on defrost in the microwave, and it's fine in a pinch, no disappointment required.

I made up for my frozen trespasses with a thinly-sliced leek and a zucchini shredded on a box grater, and then drained of excess water. Sauteeing these greens together in a pan with salt and pepper, they gave up any remaining liquids before a cup and a half of cream was added to completely reverse any healthy intentions. Oh, and some chunks of goat cheese were thrown in for good measure, to make sure and destroy all hopes of nutritional life, while adding a creamy emulsifying effect.

Well, it started out healthy, before all the cheese, cream and breadcrumbs showed up - Photos by Wasabi Prime

I had some toasted rye breadcrumbs, which crusted the top of the creamy vegetable casserole with an earthy look, as it baked off in the oven. I don't mean to say it made it rustic -- it really did look like a field of dirt in miniature. Our friends commented that they could have put little model train people and trees, creating a little edible landscape. But since it was dinnertime, and they made a truly heavenly ham as the dinner's centerpiece, we skipped playing with our food and chose the novel path of eating it with much om-nom-nomitude.

Zoe and Milo contemplate a world of ham - Photos by Wasabi Prime

Rounds of our favorite, Dominion, were played, doggies Zoe and Milo licked their chops to plead their case of I Can Haz? and everyone ate and drank well that night. Much gratitude and thanks to the Clan McDaniels household for being such generous hosts these last few months, as well as organizing these regular board game nights. Looking forward to our next bout of feudal empires won and lost!

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  1. If I do have cheese in the fridge, I would have done the same thing with the vegetables. Sometimes I just couldn't help it. And that ham looks gorgeous.

  2. Sounds like a great night and I like the sound of your contribution to the potluck...although I don't mind vegetables simply roasted or stir-fried, I'd be lying if I said I didn't prefer them with cream and goat cheese. Yeah. I could eat a lot of that, no prob.

    Zoe and Milo are too cute!

  3. Sounds like you had fun. Veggies and can you go wrong?

  4. "You know, wholesome family fun with alcohol and profanity." - HA! I love it!

    I love how you kicked-up-a-notch-bam the prototypical creamed spinach recipe with a fresh leek, what a great idea.

    Thanks WP,

  5. Game night is such a great idea... and it looks like you guys do a great job at pot-lucking it! I'm finding myself sitting there, along with the dogs, drooling and wishing for a piece of my own!

  6. That sounds like my kind of evening. It looks as though your puppies would love a taste of that luscious ham.

  7. That is comfort food. I love the way the plate looks-my Mom's food always looks like that. Ooh, and what a roast-great photo!


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